PITTSBURGH, PA (October 6, 2016) On the anniversary of the passing of the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, 11 new Lay Spiritan Associates were installed on October 2, 2016, as members and pledged to live the spirituality of the Congregation and its founders.
Claude Poullart des Places, one of the youngest founders of a religious organization, organized the Spiritans in France in 1703, while still in the seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1707, and died of pleurisy two years later on October 2, 1709. A scholar who came from a wealthy family and studied to become a lawyer and, he later dedicated his life in service to the poor and marginalized.
In this spirit of des Places, the new Lay Spiritan Associates assembled at the Spiritan Center in Bethel Park, Pa., the culmination of a multi-year probationary and formation process to enter into membership.
Earlier in the day, the new Lay Spiritans participated in an afternoon of prayer and reflection entitled, Embracing My Lay Spiritan Vocation, facilitated by Dr. Anne Marie Hansen and prior to making the commitment. Later that afternoon, Fr. Jeffrey Duaime, C.S.Sp., provincial of the U.S. Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, presided at the installation ceremony.
In reflecting on their call to becoming a Lay Spiritan Associates, each of the new members expressed hearing God calling them individually and collectively to this vocation. As Ian Nettleship said, “Becoming a Lay Spiritan has been the journey home to the real person God meant for me to be. A simple, authentic life in the service of the poorest in this world has always been written on my heart. Now I listen, and now I know that this is where I need to be.”
Carol Serafin felt a sense of community with the Spiritans, after raising a family and the loss of her husband left her feeling lonely, she said that becoming an Associate, “means being part of something larger than myself and being open to what and where the Holy Spirit wants me to be.”
To be eligible to become a Lay Spiritan Associate, applicants must be practicing Catholics over the age of 21 who have completed a prescribed probation period and a two-year formation program. The formation process consists of regular meetings, prayer and discernment, reflections on the writings of Spiritan founders and other Spiritan documents, organized group discussions on various Spiritan topics, apostolic action and participation in various Spiritan liturgical and social gatherings.
Initial annual commitment is three years, with subsequent three-year commitments offered to those who wish to continue as Associates. After nine years, the member can apply for permanent status as a Lay Spiritan Associate, accepting a life-long commitment to engaging with the poor and supporting the on-going work and charisms of the Congregation.
As the new Lay Spiritan Associates begin their initial commitment as members, they do so in the footsteps of Claude Poullart des Places, who combined scholarship, life-long learning, devotion to God and the Catholic faith and service to others as a standard for living. In fulfilling such a life lived, des Places’ final request before he died was to be buried in a simple grave among the poor he served and not in acknowledgement and grandeur.